Mandy Watts is soothing her newborn grandson when I meet her. Patting the adorable two-month old, Watts greets me warmly, with the contented smile of a proud parent. After all, her new restaurant, Mandy’s, is just six days old.
As the former general manager of the Studio One Café, “I did everything,” Watts says. She’s been in the restaurant business nearly 30 years. But Mandy’s is her first venture in ownership, and Watts says she loves it.
“I’ve been dreaming of this,” Watts says, looking around the cheerful, open space.
Watts says she hopes to fill a community niche by offering healthy and hearty fare, 24 hours a day.
“I wanted a restaurant that could support the service industry,” Watts says. “People working night shifts haven’t had many places that they can go when they get off work.”
Eugene used to be home to many all-night diners, but they’ve mostly disappeared.
“The restaurant employees, hotel clerks, cab drivers, they’re all finding our place,” Watts says.
Mandy’s sources local foods where it can.
“Our breads and hoagies come from Reality Kitchen,” Watts says. “Our tofu and tempeh are from Surata Soy Foods, our Marionberry jam is from Oregon Hill Farms, our coffee’s from Café Mam — and when it warms up, we’ll be reaching out to the local organic farmers for produce.”
Watts says she’s been clocking 18-hour days as the new restaurant gets on its feet. “But I want to make sure my staff feels supported,” she says.
That staff is already busy. When I pop into the restaurant in the late morning on a weekday, it’s packed. And a couple of days later with my family, same thing. People of all ages are merrily feasting on egg scrambles, breakfast sandwiches, salads and sandwiches. Mandy’s has a full dinner menu and a late-night menu, too.
I tell Watts that I’m looking for a lighter option, and she steers me towards a California Benedict, featuring fresh spinach, tomato, Swiss cheese and a perfect poached egg (and I am a fusspot when it comes to my poached eggs), all smothered in a creamy hollandaise. This creation is served with crispy home fries, which is my kind of light living!
Next, it’s a “TLT” — A tempeh, lettuce and tomato sandwich, with bread from Reality Kitchen and Mandy’s own agave mustard, accompanied by a green salad with sesame-ginger-miso dressing. The marinated tempeh is rich and flavorful and, like many of Mandy’s dishes, can be made gluten-free.
“I want to be a Eugene landmark,” Watts says. “I hope I’m serving a need for the community.
And I’m proud of the fact that 29 people have jobs, because we’re here.”
Mandy’s is located at 1491 Willamette Street, 541-654-0382 and is open 24 hours.